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Federal Judge Tosses Tampa Therapy Ban for Minors Fighting Same-Sex Attraction

10-06-2019

A federal judge in Florida struck down a Tampa ordinance banning the use of talk therapy on minors fighting same-sex attraction.

US District Judge William Jung ruled on Friday that the ban may restrict patients' rights to privacy and parents' rights to choose health care for their children.

The ordinance blocked licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help with overcoming same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.

Marriage and family therapist, Robert Vazzo and Christian ministry, New Hearts Outreach challenged the ordinance. Both parties were represented by Liberty Counsel, a legal non-profit organization promoting Christian values.

Also, the judge ruled that local governments do not have authority to regulate counseling and that it is the states' responsibility.

The order points out that as of October 2015, no research demonstrating the harms of talk therapy with gender minority youth has been published.

The judge's ruling eliminates the potential for counselors to be fined for providing the therapy their clients seek.

Also, the order highlights the importance of parents allowing their child the freedom to return to a gender identity that matches with the original sex at birth.

The judge wrote, "Nothing is more intimate, more private, and more sensitive, than a growing young man or woman talking to a mental health therapist about sex, gender, preferences, and conflicting feelings."

Liberty Counsel's Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, "This is a great victory for counselors and clients. The city of Tampa has no authority to prohibit counselors from helping their clients achieve their goals."  

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